The increase in the number of apprentices training in the UK pharmaceutical industry is encouraging, particularly due to the increase of higher-level apprenticeships. With the recent introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017, and the falling number of apprentices starting in the first quarter of the 2017/18 academic year, it is expected that the pharmaceutical industry will continue to increase its apprenticeship base, taking the lead on the development of more higher and degree-level apprenticeships, at the same time supporting the industry’s ambition to reach 20,000 apprenticeships in the science sector by 2020.
83% of engineering and 54% of manufacturing apprenticeships (of known level) are level 4, while 83% of R&D apprenticeships are level 5 or level 6. Examples of these higher-level apprenticeships include highly specialised areas such as the use of robotics in cell culture, and with the high gross value added per head that the pharmaceutical industry holds, these apprenticeships contribute significantly to the national economy. The number of level 3 apprenticeships may have been somewhat underrepresented, as apprentices who are undertaking a level 4 qualification (such as a Higher National Diploma) as part of a level 3 apprenticeship may be internally classed as level 4 by companies. Nonetheless, there is still a significant increase in the number of higher-level, more technical apprenticeships.